lts that time of year again! The AGM will be on Monday, February 23rd at 7.30 pm.
The AGM is of course a legal requirement for CCT, as a charity and registered company, but it is also an opportunity for Tremadog residents and other supporters to meet and discuss the trust's activities.
Please make a note in your diaries, and come to discuss priorities - where should CCT direct its energies - the church, the Tannery , the shops?...
Saint Mary's Church - Trust thwarted by Church in Wales
ln the early summer of 1997, the Representative Body of the Church in Wales - the RB - placed Saint Mary's on the market, just as the trust's feasibility study was completed and publicised. Following the public meeting, the trustees wrote to the RB to object strongly to their ''jumping the gun". In July, the trust identified a possible end-user/tenant for the Church, using the building as an art gallery and Tremadog history centre, and wrote to the RB to ask them to consider a conditional offer. The RB declined, having accepted a conditional offer from another party. The Heritage Lottery stated that, while there was another party interested in the building, they would not consider an application from the trust. As a result of this response from the Lottery, the trust has had to wait until the Planning application of the other party was considered. So much for ''the people's lottery"
This is not the only instance of the RB ignoring the wishes of the local community, or in moving with inappropriate speed to market a historic building without regard to special qualities. Although it has the task of maximising income from the redundant churches transferred to its care, this cannot be its only consideration. The spiritual and social role of a church building in the community and its particular sensitivity because of this role, and the listed status of many of these properties, surely impose an additional duty, of considering whether they can be offered for sale to all comers without restriction. When a community group has worked for over a year to raise funds, has completed a study showing a way forward and is known to be on the brink of making an offer - in the order anticipated by the RB - why the haste to put the church on the market?
ln January 1998, the Dwyfor area planning committee of Gwynedd Council decided that the proposed use by the other purchaser as a bookshop/ antiques & craft centre/cafe was acceptable, and has informed Cadw that it has no objections. The Welsh Office Highways Directorate (which deals with Trunk Roads) required 30 on-site parking places, but Dwyfor's planning officer Aneurin Parry informs the trust that he has written to ask them to reconsider this requirement since the building is listed and in the Conservation
Area. He has copied the correspondence to Cadw and asked them to deal with the Highway Directorate direct.
Mr Parry assures us that any changes to the building and its setting will be controlled by conditions, and that no work should start
until written approval of the detailed design has been given. The trustees will shortly discuss if they should write to Cadw to ensure that adequate conditions are imposed to safeguard the historic and architectural importance of the church.
In its response to Gwynedd/Dwyfor, the trust stated that it had no objections in principle to the proposed use, provided that the details of the conversion and repair were suitable. These details have yet to be submitted.
The trustees have been in contact with the applicants, Mr and Mrs. Eagle of Solihull. They hope soon to meet.
By the time the AGM takes place, the public meetings of the Dolbenmaen Arolwg Bro (Local Survey) will have started. Unfortunately, there is no ''Arolwg Bro'' planned for Tremadog, Borth y Gest and Morfa Bychan, the sizeable villages subsumed under "Porthmadog"
The questionnaire and public meeting organised by CCT as part of the Feasibility Study for Saint Mary's Church covered some of the same ground, by asking residents what Tremadog lacks and what work they would like to see to improve the environment in the village.
The two areas highlighted were - the traffic; and the lack of any provision for young people in the evenings. Some older residents wanted a quiet place to meet each other and share a cup of tea, or to be able to sit outside away from the vehicles.
Regulating the traffic is beyond the scope of activity for a Buildings Preservation Trust, though it is entitled to comment on any changes proposed to the Trunk Road.
There have been remarkably few serious accidents in Tremadog, perhaps because it is so evidently a hazardous area, through
which one must drive slowly. Any changes to "streamline" the road layout by giving a clearer route for through-traff|ic, would tend to increase speeds and to increase the likelihood of a bad accident. Ideally for safety, the through-traffic would be removed, though this would affect trade at the Spar and the Chip Shop and to a lesser degree the other shops and pubs. The optimum solution, then, would be to ensure that traffic moves slowly, by keeping the mixture of parking, bus-stops, pedestrians and through traffic For safety, specific crossings near the school and near the church may be required, but pedestrians are sure to continue to walk across the
square. So perhaps safety is best ensured by making the road surface in the square, indeed, within the whole area within the safety crossings, unsuitable for fast driving. A noisy surface would warn drivers that they were in a special zone, but it Would be intolerable for residents. Well-laid granite seats, such as may be seen in the historic areas of Linlithgow, in Scotland, and further afield in Norway and Switzerland, would be a suitable option. The seats should not be laid as in the harbour area of Porthmadog, where they are far too far apart. They should be much closer together, and with very little variation in the upper surface level so that a pushchair can be wheeled comfortably across them. Correctly specified and laid dry on a well-prepared base, setts can withstand heavy rain, frost, even the manoeuvring of buses and lorries, as can be seen in the city centre of Bergen, where the climate is as wet, and colder than ours. Setts can be "unzipped'' and repaid when services need repair.
Needs of young people
This concern has been identified throughout the area. A building preservation trust could be involved only where premises were needed, and the trust received a rent or granted a lease for use by a youth group. However, the problem is not premises so much as adult organisers and leaders. Because volunteers are few and far between one solution would be to pay a youth worker. This would mean that youngsters would have to pay to take part; but one youth worker could cover several villages by holding sessions on different nights in several locations. There is potential for job creation here....
On a smaller scale, there was a nucleus of volunteers already supporting the trust's proposals to create a community garden in
the grounds of Saint Mary's Church. This would have including a cemetary for children's pets, and the intention was to involve the children in the design and execution of the garden.
Needs of older residents
This concern was answered in part within the trust's proposals for the Church, by creating quiet sitting areas overlooking the main road, but further away from the traffic.
Perhaps Mr & Mrs Eagle will like tome of the trust's ideas for the churchyard!
Where do we go from here?
The Heritage Lottery has stated that it will not consider applications from trusts while there is a possibility that they can be purchased and repaired on the open market. Until a property has been tested on the market and failed, they will not support its purchase by a trust. They will however consider applications from trusts that own or hold a long lease on a property. This stance means that it is not possible for a trust without considerable capital to acquire a property by negotiation. It means that properties must sit on the market, often in poor repair and deteriorating, until the "failure" on the open market is established. If the owner fails for whatever reason to put the property on the market, there is no way a trust without capital can rescue the building. This stance makes it extremely hard for new trusts to start, unless they can receive "pump-priming" funding (or the strong use of compulsory purchase powers if appropriate) from their local authority.
Cywaith, the BPT operating within Snowdonia National Park, has used both mechanisms, and, having been established later that Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog, has completed and sold its first property, and is seeking a second project.
Should Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog launch an appeal for working capital?